Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Southern Snacking: RC Cola and a Moon Pie

When it comes to snacking, the South beats them all. This is the land which brought PORK RINDS to the world. But the true Suthun Hit, the basis of all Suthun Snacks: The RC Cola and a Moon Pie. What a combination!

The MoonPie hit the markets of Chattanooga Tennessee in 1917 and R.C. Cola arrived in Columbus, Georgia in 1934. They were an instant success when they finally (somehow) combined forces in the 1950's. At that time, you could buy a RC (Royal Crown) Cola and MoonPie special for 10 cents. That was a full 16 ounces of soda and the MoonPies weighed about near (that's Suthun for approximate size) a half pound.

This combo was soon labeled as the "Working Man's Lunch" of the fifties - although it's never been stated whether the merging of the two was a planned marketing strategy or just plain luck. I'll go with luck, though the founding cities of the two aren't really that far apart, both located in the deep south.

This combination has inspired many to write, sing and celebrate in its existence. Songs such as the 1950s hit "Gimme an RC Cola and a Moonpie" from Big Bill Liston to today's version from NRBQ called "RC and Moonpie" and "Moonpie" by Edwin Hubbard, as well as the popular children's musical version by Bill Harley called "Weezie and the Moon Pies".

Oh but there's more... (and you knew there would be, now didn't you?)

The World Championship Moonpie Eating Contest is held annually in the town of Oneonta, Alabama, where you can bet they wash down those MoonPies with an ice cold RC Cola. Every year in June there is the RC-MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Rated a Southeastern Tourism Society Top 20 Event, this local festival is a jam packed day of fun for the whole family. There is plenty of country and bluegrass music, a parade, clogging dancers, Moon Pie games, crafts, contests and the ever popular Synchronized Wading.

(Wait, Crafts? What kind of craft can you do with a moon pie? The mind fairly boggles at the thought....)

It's obvious that the South LOVES MoonPies.

Millions of special made mini MoonPies are thrown every year during the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. This tradition has newer beginnings that date back only to the mid 1970's when Mardi Gras revelers were hunting for lighter items to toss (less damage when tossed and easier to transport.) Also during the seventies came a new style of eating the MoonPie: "heated". The invention of the microwave took eating a moon pie to a higher more wonderful and sinful level. (Whoever invented the microwave, let me say "Thank You".)

The MoonPie and R.C. Cola combination has held fast in our southern states over the decades. Every southerner has fond memories of the MoonPie and RC Cola. The occasional afternoon walk to the local store to retrieve a MoonPie and an R.C.Cola with a parent was commonplace. Some of the most important parental conversations took place during the enjoyment of this delightful combination. The hurried traveler while stopping for a gas fill up, would regularly purchase a R.C. Cola and MoonPie to tide him or her over. (Might I add that a hurried stop in Tennessee is equivalent to about 20 minutes or so.)

I venture to say that every store in Nashville that carries food still sells MoonPies and R.C. Colas within it's walls, from the local grocery store to gas stations to dollar stores. Not only have the R.C. Cola and the MoonPie survived and flourished throughout the south, their popularity is still growing globally. You can now order these treats anytime, via the Internet, shipped to anywhere in the world, although it is best to order during the winter months when local demand is somewhat less.

Just in case you didn't know, R.C. Cola was an innovator in many areas. They were the first to introduce their beverage in an all aluminum can, the first to make a low calorie diet cola (Diet Rite) and the first cola manufacturer to make a caffeine free Soda (R.C. 100).

Innovation, ice cold Cola and Sweet Snacks. (It's the "Working Man's Lunch!") It's no wonder I love living in the South.

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